Race, immigration and multiculturalism in Conservative ideology from Powell to Johnson

Simon Frank Parker, Steven Andrew Hirschler

Research output: Working paper


Enoch Powell's legacy continues to haunt British politics, and especially the Conservative Party, which while seeking to distance itself from the more extreme language and warnings of his so-called "Rivers of Blood" speech has nevertheless embraced Powell's belief that mass migration has mostly had a negative impact on British society and that multiculturalism has generally been a failure. Drawing extensively on the Powell archives, parliamentary debates and election manifestos from the 1960s onwards, we argue that Powell's vision of Britain as a white, Christian and "Greater English" homogeneous community is consistent both with Conservative immigration policy in the decades following their return to government in 1970 and with how more recent leading Conservative politicians have tended to define the "we" of the sovereign nation as against an increasingly hostile casting of the "other" represented by new and existing migrant communities as well as the competing sovereignties of the European Union and its member states during and after the EU referendum campaign.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherDepartment of Politics, University of York
Number of pages42
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Enoch Powell
  • Conservative Party
  • immigration
  • race
  • multiculturalism

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